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(.3 Cubic feet: 2 (.5) DB)

by: Robert S. Harding, September 1991


Samuel Morse Felton (1809-1889), civil engineer, became Superintendent and engineer of the Fitchburg Railroad in 1843 and left in 1851 to become President of the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad (PWBRR). Under Felton's able management this unsuccessful and financially failing railroad was rebuilt, restored and prospered. The road was of great strategic importance during the Civil War and performed a great service by transporting troops and supplies for the Union. In 1857, he installed the locomotive engine "Daniel Webster" in service on the PWBRR. It was probably the first really successful coal burning passenger engine in regular service upon any RR in the U.S. In 1865 he left the PWBRR to become President of the Pennsylvania Steel Company. The first concern in the United States to attempt the manufacture of steel rails as a commercial enterprise. During this period he also served as director of many railroads including the Philadelphia, Wilmington & BRR, the Lehigh Coal & Navigation Co., the Northern Pacific, the Ogdensburg & Lake Champlain and several others. He was director for ten years of the Pennsylvania RR. In 1869 he was appointed by President Grant as a Commissioner to inspect Pacific Railroads.

The son, Samuel Morse Felton (1853-1930), followed in this father's footsteps. He graduated from MIT in 1873 and began a life-long career in American railroading. In 1889 he became President of the Chicago and Alton Railroad, later assumed the Presidency of the Mexican Central Railroad, and became President of the Chicago Great Western Railroad in 1909. During WWI he was appointed Director General of Military Railways and in that capacity had charge of the organization and dispatch to France of all American railway forces and supplies. He continued in that position during the World War years. By 1928 he was Chairman of the Board of the Chicago Great Western Railroad, President of the Western Railroad Association, and Chairman of the Western Association of Railway Executives, to name only a few of his positions. At his death he was an advisor and associate of the Central Trust Company of Illinois.

Scope & Content

This collection contains biographical material on both Feltons; a handwritten bound report by Felton on the construction of the Norfolk Co. Railroad, 1847-1849; correspondence, 1861-1927 to and from both Feltons; various reports on military railroads during the World War years; and news clippings and articles on the Feltons 185? - 1930.


Transferred from the Division of Transportation 7/3/85.

Container List

Box Folder
Series 1: BIOGRAPHICAL, 1841-1921
1 1 "Extract From an Autobiography by Samuel Morse Felton For His Children, 1841-1889"
Articles of Agreement, 185? between PWBRR & SMF
2 Preamble and Resolution by Citizens of Philadelphia on behalf of Felton, Apr. 17, 1865
3 "Excerpts from Statements by Felton," Jan 17, 1866
4 Doane, Thomas & Charles Harris. "S. M. Felton-A Memoir," Boston: Committee of the Boston Society of Civil Engineers, 1891
5 Memorial to Samuel Morse Felton Jr. (one typed page by Central Trust of Illinois)
6 Military Trip to Europe, Aug. 30, 1918
A Trip to Europe, Jul. 16-Aug. 3, 1921
Series 2: CORRESPONDENCE, 1861-1926
7 Incoming, 1861-1922:
8/16/ ? from Thomas A. Scott, Pres., Pennsylvania RR 12/16/186? from Quarter-Master General's Office
2/22/1861 from Jay Cooke (& Co. Bankers)
2/11/1862 from unknown correspondent
1/25/1918 agreement between G. Lomonossoff and Felton
1/26/1918 from G. Lomonossoff, President, Russian Mission of Ways of Communication
2/26/1919 from J. Milliken, Col. of Engineers, War Dept.
3/23/1922 from W. W. Atterbury, V.P. Pennsylvania
5/15/1922 from Robert C. Davis, Acting Adjutant General, War Dept.
8 Outgoing, 1918-1926:
1/15/1918 From W.G. McAdoo, Director General of Railroads (Russian Order)
1/19/1918 Memo regarding Russian government order for locomotives
1/24/1918 Representing the Sec. of War, to G. Lomonossoff, President, Russian Mission of Ways of Communication
10/ 6/1926 To Dorothy Rogers regarding an article by her Uncle Conray Felton The Baltimore Plot about an attempt to assassinate Lincoln
9 Other Correspondence, 1886-1922:
Memorandum on "contract system" of operating the Philadelphia, Wilmington & Baltimore RR prior to and during the civil war, n.d. 
unknown correspondents, n.d. 
11/15/1886 unknown correspondents
11/15/1886 to Hon. Oliver Ames, from unknown correspondent
2/13/1894 President & members of the Executive Committee of the Southern Railway and Steamship Association., from MH Smith, President of the Louisville Southern Railway Co.
2/28/1894 to Pres. & Members of the Executive Committee of the Southern Railway and Steamship Association., from S.M. Felton, Receiver
1/24/1918 from Andrew Fletcher, Pres. The American Locomotive Sales Corporation.
1/31/1918 to G. Lomonossoff, from unknown correspondent representing Director General Military
1/03/1922 to W. W. Atterbury, from Secretary of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company.
Series 3: REPORTS, 1847-1919
2 1 Handwritten Report by S.M. Felton on the construction of Norfolk Company Railroad (line ran between Boston & Blackstone, Massachusetts), 1847-1849
2 Comparative chart of expenditures and statistics for Northern Pacific Railway, 1899-1903
"Report on Work of Military Railway Commission", From Maj. William Barclay Parsons, War Dept., 6/22/1917
"Report of Purchases Made for U.S. Engineer Corps by the Pennsylvania RR Co. Purchasing Department, 1917-1919"
"Report of operations of Transportation Service" from C. M. Bunting, to Director General of Transportation, 12/10/1918
Memorandum to Felton "History Military Railways: Nevers and La Allice Shops" n.d.
"Troops in France up to Armistice, " n.d.


History of Transportation Department

Chapter 1: Introduction

Chapter 3: "Period of Organization"
Series 5: NEWS CLIPPINGS, 1889-1930


"The Death of Samuel M. Felton," The Bulletin, Philadelphia, January 30, 1889
Biography of S.M. Felton, including image, Sparrow Point Times, Baltimore, May 30, 1890.
"Samuel Morse Felton," p. 78, n.d.
"Railroads Report Big Year," Chicago Examiner, January 1, 1910.
"Remarks of S.M. Felton, President and Receiver, at Luncheon given to officials of the Pere Marched Railroad," April, 1, 1914.
"Map of Murmansk-Petrograd Railway & Adjoining Region," 1910.
Distinguished-service Medal [G.O.18] Announcement S.M. Felton, January 27, 1919.
"Felton named U.S. Rail Chief,... Will Direct Purchasing For And Operations of Army Roads," n.d.
"S.M. Felton Elected Chairman Of Great Western," Railway Age, November 7, 1925.
Packet of obituaries, news clippings on Samuel M. Felton Jr.'s death, 1930


Revised: January 25, 2002